Coach Dave Tippet says the team has looked sloppy, and general manager Don Maloney has threatened “change” if the team doesn’t get better soon, but the captain of the Arizona Coyotes still sees promise in a group that is off to a disappointing 4-6-1 start.
Shane Doan is 38 years old and in his 19th NHL season with the same franchise that picked him in the first round of the 1995 draft, but he’s never been to a Stanley Cup final. And his best shot — the Coyotes’ 4-1 series loss to the eventual champion L.A. Kings in the 2012 Western Conference final — now seems like distant history.
The veteran admitted to Sportsnet’s Brady & Walker Tuesday that he thinks about his NHL expiry date, but reassured listeners that he still believes in both his own level of play and Arizona’s ability to turn things around.
“How long do you want to play? How long do you want to do this? Do you still enjoy it?” Doan said he asks himself. “I love the game. I’ve always joked that I’ll play the game until I can’t move anymore. It’s just no one will be watching for the next 40 years after I’m done. I won’t be playing in the NHL, but I’ll be playing somewhere.”
So even though the 400-goal milestone is just 43 red lamps away and he’s won two gold medals with Canada at the World Championship, Doan still has his sights on the Cup.
“It’s your dream. It’s the reason why you play,” said Doan, who is signed with Arizona through the 2015-16 season. “It feels like it’s my responsibility to find a way to do it here. Obviously people can laugh at that and find that humourous. We haven’t looked like one of the contenders in the last two years and this year so far, but at the same time, I really like our group, and I think Mike Smith is an unbelievable goalie. And that’s the key.
“I’m really focusing on us, and I’m not even going to worry about what else could be going on.”
The captain threw up three points in the Coyotes’ come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over the Washington Capitals Sunday, snapping Arizona’s three-game losing skid. But he says the team’s 30th-ranked defence, which has averaged an ugly 3.73 goals against through 11 games, needs to tighten up.
“[Defence] has been our identity, that’s been our calling card,” he said. “In order for us to have any real success, that has to be a staple. That being said, when you’re not doing it, you gotta find ways to score goals.”
Doan and the Coyotes aim to shut down the Maple Leafs’ offence Tuesday when they host Toronto at 9 p.m. ET in Glendale.